Occupational Therapy: Helping Others Get Back to Living Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley Daily Herald Correspondent

It's always rewarding when you find your passion, especially when it comes to a full time career.

Cathleen Cummings, an occupational therapist for the past nine and-a-half years, first started out in business marketing before drastically changing gears.

"For me, I started exploring where my interests and strengths were at. I came up with psychology and science, and (occupational therapy) is a field which includes both," Cummings said. "I was 26 when I returned to school. I graduated when I was 30, with a bachelors of science in occupational therapy from University of Illinois in Chicago. They are definitely one of the top schools, and it was a great location for me."

Occupational therapy offers many employment possibilities.

"We practice in a multitude of arenas: in school settings; with premature babies; in pediatrics; in hospital settings; outpatient clinics; and nursing homes. OTs (occupational therapists) also work with psychiatric patients."

Cummings works full time in Dayhab, a daytime rehabilitation program available at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

"People come in for therapy and go home. We work a lot with neuro -- strokes and brain injuries, who require more intensive therapy. We're also doing neuromuscular reeducation, training muscles to do what they need to do. We mostly work on strengthening, sensation, and motor skills," Cummings explained.

Patients seen by OTs (occupational therapists) are "dealing with a huge loss, entire changes in their lives," Cummings said. "They are coping and relearning how to do things in a new and different way, like making coffee, brushing their teeth, and just combing their hair."

An additional aspect of occupational therapy provided in the Dayhab is ADO, Activities of Daily Living. This form of rehabilitation focuses on restoring independence in daily living skills and although it is generally provided to seniors, patients starting around age six on up have come in for ADO. …